Call it the year of the individual investor.
Nonprofessional investors are continuing to upend financial markets and build on their forceful entrance into the arena last year. In the first half of 2021, new brokerage accounts opened by individual investors have already roughly matched the total created throughout 2020, hitting more than 10 million, according to estimates from JMP Securities.
They have driven up the stock prices of companies ranging from GameStop Corp. to AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. —both have gained more than 1,000% and 2,600%, respectively, this year. They have sent the cryptocurrency dogecoin, originally created as a joke, soaring. And they have banded together on brash forums to inflict punishing losses on institutional investors.
Here are four ways individual investors continue to shape every corner of the U.S. market.
Their trading volume keeps growing.
For years, individual investors’ trading activity rarely made a splash on Wall Street. That started to change in 2019, when online brokerages moved en masse to commission-free trading. The Covid-19 pandemic further accelerated individuals’ interest in stocks last year, allowing those stuck at home to try their hands at trading through historic market volatility.